Saskatchewan

'I don't apologize because I'm not wrong': Former Wascana architect rebuffs Brandt's demands for apology

Len Novak is sticking by his criticism of the Brandt/CNIB project in Wascana Centre despite demands for an apology from one of Saskatchewan’s largest companies.

Brandt President and CEO wades into controversy about Wascana Park development

Brandt President and CEO Shaun Semple (centre), seen here with Saskatchewan cabinet ministers Ken Cheveldayoff (left) and Jeremy Harrison (right), is demanding a former Wascana architect apologize. (www.jeremyharrison.ca)

Len Novak is sticking by his criticism of the Brandt/CNIB project in Wascana Centre despite demands for an apology from one of Saskatchewan's largest companies.

On Thursday, Brandt put out a news release demanding Novak, who used to serve on Wascana Park's architectural advisory committee, apologize for saying the company's four-storey development proposed for Wascana Park "was in contravention of the Wascana Center Master Plan."

Brandt President and CEO Shaun Semple is demanding that Mr. Novak apologize for and withdraw his false statements.- Brandt news release

The release doesn't identify any specific quotes by Novak that Brandt objected to, but Brandt's demand came on the same day the architect was quoted in the Regina Leader Post as saying, "I'm not a lawyer, but it seems clear, very clear to me and to the people that I worked with on that committee that these developments are, in fact, in contravention of the law as stated in the Act and the master plan."

His statement to the paper was consistent with comments he and others have made to CBC in the past.

Brandt's president and CEO Shaun Semple, "is demanding that Mr. Novak apologize for and withdraw his false statements," according to the company's release.

Novak, an Alberta-based landscape architect, served for years on Wascana's architectural advisory committee. As part of that role, he reviewed Brandt's proposed building.

Novak told CBC he would not retract anything he has said about the project.

"I don't apologize because I'm not wrong," Novak said.

Shaun Semple has not replied to a request for an interview.

In 1985, Len Novak was the president of the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects. He says he was dismissed from the AAC because he wouldn't approve the Conexus project. (Canadian Society of Landscape Architects website)

Brandt explains its concerns

The Master Plan is the governing document for Wascana Centre. The latest version was completed in 2016. 

In its news release Thursday, Brandt points out that the Master Plan confirms CNIB was planning to build a new building which would be larger than the existing one and that the Master Plan confirms that other tenants besides CNIB would occupy the building. 

Brandt also says that the Wascana Centre Authority, which governed the park at the time, "had conditionally approved the new, expanded building prior to approval of the 2016 Master Plan." 

Novak said he doesn't dispute any of those statements, but that they fail to address his concerns.

"There is a background to this that they're not including," said Novak. 

Brandt's proposed Wascana Park building is planned to be 77,500 square feet, with 4,000 of that provided to CNIB for free. (Colliers International)

Novak said his concern — and the concern of the committee — was not that CNIB or other tenants were proposed to occupy the building.

He said his concern was with the types of tenants that were proposed, which he said didn't conform to the Master Plan, which preserves the park exclusively for the seat of government and the promotion of education, recreation, culture and the environment. 

He said the proposed schedule of tenants, "just about permitted anything including uses that are more properly located in the downtown." 

CBC has previously reported that the Saskatchewan government signed a lease with CNIB allowing a wide range of businesses to locate in the building including general office use. 

Novak said that was his concern. 

"The point is that there is still a compliance requirement there and as we saw the use didn't comply," he said. 

About the Author

Geoff Leo

Senior Investigative Journalist

Geoff Leo has been a reporter for CBC News in Saskatchewan since 2001. His work as an investigative journalist and documentary producer has earned numerous national and regional awards.

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